International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through healthcare training, disaster relief, and long-term development programs.
Oct 13, 2015

Update on Situation and Current Activities

Refugee arrival point
Refugee arrival point

The number of migrant and refugee arrivals to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 has now surpassed 500,000—more than twice the number of arrivals in all of 2014 and more than eight times the number of arrivals the previous year. The average daily rate of arrivals also increased in September compared to August, as the onset of fall creates a sense of urgency for people attempting the sea crossing before the waters become even more treacherous, with higher winds and colder temperatures.

As European leaders work toward regional solutions to the refugee and migrant situation, tensions continue to flare between transit countries in the absence of a common approach. The Government of Hungary has indicated pending plans to seal its border with Croatia, which would further impede refugees’ ability to reach other European countries. Hungary’s closure of its border with Serbia in mid- September diverted refugees into Croatia in search of an alternative route. On September 21, Hungary’s parliament passed legislation permitting the military to patrol the border, and for the military and police to use non-lethal weapons against people who cross the border without permission in six border counties where the government has declared a state of crisis. Despite Hungary’s stance, Croatia has continued to transfer refugees to its border with Hungary, which in turn has transported them onward to Austria.

Mobile Medical Unit Begins Operating in Serbia

International Medical Corps is partnering with a local organization to provide medical care and psychosocial support to refugees and migrants transiting Serbia en route to other destinations. According to the Government of Serbia, more than 200,000 people have entered Serbia since the beginning of 2015; approximately 540 have expressed intentions to seek asylum in the country.

International Medical Corps and its local partner have begun operating a mobile medical unit (MMU) staffed by a doctor, nurse, psychologist, and interpreter. The team also has Arabic-language capability, given the high percentage of Arabic speakers among the refugee population. The MMU operates in coordination with Serbia’s Commissariat for Refugees and local health centers to identify appropriate areas of operation and needed assistance.

International Medical Corps in Greece

International Medical Corps has deployed a team to Greece to support a new program with a local organization to address needs resulting from the refugee influx. On September 30, International Medical Corps visited an Athens day care center managed by its local partner, where the organization is providing medical care and psychosocial support to refugees and migrants who have arrived via the Greek Isles and are transiting Greece on the way to other destinations. With supplies donated to International Medical Corps, its local partner distributed approximately 145 hygiene kits that contained basic hygiene supplies for refugees in transit. International Medical Corps and its local partner plan to distribute additional hygiene kits in reception centers, including on the Greek islands, where local resources are particularly strained.

Assisting Refugees in Mediterranean Coastal Areas of Turkey

In Turkey, International Medical Corps plans to utilize well-established partnerships with local organizations to ensure that people transiting through and settled on the coastal areas of Izmir and the Bodrum Peninsula have sufficient access to medical care and basic services. International Medical Corps has identified several needs among refugees in these locations, which are common launching points for the journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Health issues include respiratory tract infections; gastrointestinal diseases; chronic diseases; dermatological diseases, particularly among children; minor trauma; and a need for obstetric care. Hygiene supplies are a priority need, given a lack of access to sanitation facilities aside from local businesses and clinics. Food is also a significant need, particularly in Bodrum.

International Medical Corps is building on its existing program supporting refugees in Turkey to respond to needs emerging as part of the Mediterranean refugee and migrant crisis. Since December 2014, International Medical Corps and a local partner have operated a multi-service center in Izmir; International Medical Corps will provide referrals to the center and other similar locations where refugees can access medical care and other services. International Medical Corps will also utilize existing and new local partnerships to distribute food, winter clothing, blankets, and other critical supplies. Additional support from International Medical Corps will include capacity building and technical guidance, such as on mental health and psychosocial support, for local partners responding to the crisis.

It is with the support of GlobalGiving and other donors that International Medical Corps is able to continue responding to this continually evolving crisis. Thank you so much for your continued efforts in meeting this urgent need!

Refugee arrival point
Refugee arrival point
Distribution of supplies
Distribution of supplies
Distribution of supplies
Distribution of supplies
Sep 22, 2015

From Community Level Care to Specialized Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

Dr. Carlo supervises clinical visit
Dr. Carlo supervises clinical visit

International Medical Corps’ community outreach officers conducted a community awareness-raising activity on mental health and psychosocial support in Cogon District, Ormoc City. Elected community leaders, known as the Association of Barangay Captains, participated. One of the attendees was a Councilor of Barangay San Isidro, who happened to be sent as a representative for the Barangay Captain who was unable to attend on this particular day. The Councilor was pleasantly surprised to be participating in the event, and learned about how to address stigmatization of those with mental illnesses and how to advocate for greater understanding. The councilor later shared that she and her family have been greatly impacted by stigmatization and a family member’s experience with a mental health disorder.

The councilor explained that her husband suffers from a mental health disorder. He traveled to Manila for medical care and was prescribed medications and advised to seek inpatient hospitalization. The family was not able to follow through because of lack of funds and distance from the closest hospital. Her husband finally returned home without proper treatment or medications.

His journey home coincided with his wife’s attendance at International Medical Corps’ scheduled community awareness-raising activity. One week later, the counselor brought her husband to International Medical Corps’ office asking if a psychiatrist could help them. They were encouraged to schedule an appointment with their Municipal Health Officer, Dr. Sarah, who had previously participated in International Medical Corps’ mental health gap action program—which consists of training for primary health care staff in assessment, treatment and intervention for mental health disorders. Following that program, Dr. Sarah received continuing supervision and on-the-job training with International Medical Corps’ psychiatrists.

The initial visit with Dr. Sarah was followed by a second appointment where he received medications donated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and distributed by International Medical Corps.

International Medical Corps’ national psychiatrist, Dr. Carlo, supervised Dr. Sarah’s interview and consultation with the patient on the third follow-up visit as a part of the on-the-job training program. During this follow-up appointment, Dr. Carlo recommended that an additional medication be added to the treatment plan. Dr. Sarah is grateful for International Medical Corps’ mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) program which has greatly helped train and encourage her to effectively interview and treat patients with mental health issues in her clinic.

With the help of both Dr. Sarah, who was trained by International Medical Corps, and the medicines donated by WHO, the patient is now functioning at a higher level in his daily life. He also demonstrated improvement in his mental health status exam. As the patient had worked as a driver in Manila before becoming ill, Dr. Sarah stated she would give him a “fit to work” certificate provided that he adhere to his medications and continue his follow-up consultations in the clinic. Dr. Sarah has since reported to International Medical Corps that the patient is attending follow-up appointments regularly and continues to improve.

This story is a testament to how the MHPSS program team, consisting of a program manager, a psychosocial officer, psychiatrists, psychologists, program officers and community outreach officers, has been able to work on a variety of levels within the municipalities to ensure increased understanding for mental health-related issues and appropriate follow-up and care. Organizing community-based awareness activities has helped to educate community members about a variety of mental health-related topics and the importance of seeking appropriate interventions, as well as increasing sensitivity towards such issues. By working on a grassroots level, along with the rural health units, International Medical Corps has helped connect community members with doctors and appropriate professionals, while each separate activity paved the way for holistic health care management for our beneficiaries throughout the Leyte region. With the growing number of trained health staff and resources in the province, it is expected that those patients who are experiencing financial and other hardships will now be able to access help and support in their very own localities.

Community awareness event at Cogon District
Community awareness event at Cogon District
Sep 17, 2015

Financial Empowerment for Women and Their Families in the DRC

Deep-rooted change within individuals and communities is needed to address the needs of women and their families and International Medical Corps is initiating that change in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The following story told by a husband and father is just one example of our success.

“My name is Rashidi. I was in charge of collecting taxes in the mining zones in Walikale. We used to make a lot of money which was often used up in buying alcohol and engaging in promiscuous behavior. I did not have the concept of saving. I lived for the day because I knew that I would get more money the next day. I never cared about my wife or my children.

“When the job at the mines ended, I was left with nothing. I heard people talk about men’s discussion groups and decided to join because I was curious to know what they were about. During the discussions about negative masculinity, I realized that I was my biggest enemy. I decided to stop drinking alcohol and concentrate on improving the status of my family. I started helping my wife on the farm and involving her in making decisions.

“In August 2014, I got a part-time job conducting an assessment for an NGO. I was paid $30 and for the first time in my life, I shared the money with my wife. She asked for $20 to start a business of selling fish and I gave her the money. Her business has grown and from the profits, we decided to buy two goats. I have been able to start my own business as well and together, we plan to buy a piece of land and build a house. In one year, we have been able to acquire property from a start of $20, something that I was unable to do when I illegally earned $3,000 per month from the mines.

“I thank International Medical Corps for having started this program and I would like them to reach more people with this work.”

With the generous support of GlobalGiving and other donors, International Medical Corps is able to initiate programs such as these and help people like Rashidi change his life in constructive ways. Not only does this work positively impact individuals and their families but it also leads to lasting change for entire communities.

 
   

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